January 14, 2019
Laboratories can reap a plethora of potential hazards, therefore lab safety is a critical part of the scientific process. By following specific guidelines and protocols we not only ensure our safety, but the safety of others. In this weeks lab module 3 main topics of lab safety were introduced. The 3 topics are as follows: proper handwashing techniques, proper lab attire and the utilization of personal protective equipment, proper clean up before and after performing experiments, and disposal of waste. By following these set guidelines we can prevent injury, accidents, and exposure to harmful substances. This module is meant to educate on the importance of lab safety and encourage one to consistently put it into practice.
Methods and Materials
The first unit introduced proper handwashing techniques. Soap and water are essential to properly wash ones hands. Before hand washing begins all jewelry should be removed and placed to the side. Turn on the faucet to warm water and pass hands under the stream. After hands are properly wet apply soap liberally to one or both hands and then rub hands together to create a good lather. Continue to rub hands together for at least 20 seconds away from the faucet. During this time a nail brush can be used under the fingernails. Once the minimum time requirement has been reached rinse hands with fingers facing toward the basin of the sink. Use a clean paper towel to dry clean hands and to turn off the faucet. Once the faucet is off the paper towel may be discarded in the trash bin.
In the second unit of this weeks lab module we are introduced to proper lab attire and the utilization of safety equipment. Equipment worn in the lab for protection can be referred to as PPE (personal protective equipment). There should be no food or drink allowed in the lab at any time. All beverages and food should be discarded before entering the lab. No personal items should be left out on the lab bench while the bench is being utilized. The only items that should be on the bench are a lab journal or notebook, and equipment being used to perform experiment. A flame retardant lab coat should be worn at all times and no open toed shoes should be permitted. It is important to identify all dangers that can be associated with an experiment before starting, and understand what equipment should be utilized to ensure safety. Latex gloves should be donned when handling dangerous chemicals, infectious bacteria, or when performing dissections. Eyewear should accompany those gloves when chemicals that have the potential to splash or spill are being used, and when operating an ultraviolet light. Hair should be tied back out of the face, and any loose clothing secured, when using a Bunsen burner. Utilization of a fumed hood is crucial when working with dangerous chemicals and a biosafety cabinet when working with infectious organisms. In the event of any lab accident the instructor should immediately be notified.
The third unit in this weeks lab module introduced the proper disposal of materials utilized in the lab. There are a minimum of three bins for disposal of materials. The three bins are as follows: a biohazard bin, a regular trash bin, and a sharps container. Bacterial culture plates (plastic), dissection specimens, and gloves used during dissection are examples of what to put in a biohazard bin. Sharp materials such as syringes, glass pipettes, glass slides, and scalpels are placed in a sharps container. Paper products, unless they come in contact with bacterial specimens, are placed in the regular trash bin. Tools used during experiment should either be placed in the sink for washing or in the autoclave for sterilization, depending on the nature of the tools. Before an experiment is begun and after it is finished the lab bench should always be wiped down and disinfected.
Proper handwashing is one of the number one preventative measures to decrease the transmission of bacteria. Hand washing manually removes many of the bacteria present on the hands, and by using a nail brush bacteria trapped underneath the nails can be removed. The positioning of the hands while rinsing them is very important to prevent the backflow of contaminated soap and water up ones arms. Using a paper towel dry hands, and turn off the faucet. Hands should be washed before an experiment is started, and after completion of the experiment. By washing hands before an experiment the chance of contaminating ones sample is decreased, and by washing after prevents the spread any bacteria or contamination.
Following protocol set forth in the lab ensures the safety of yourself as well as that of others. It is important to never bring food or drink into the lab to prevent the accidental ingestion of hazard material, or contaminated substances. It also prevents spills that can damage expensive lab equipment. By wearing closed toe shoes ones feet are covered and protected from potential spills of dangerous chemicals and lab coats protect otherwise exposed surfaces from hazardous materials as well. Gloves and goggles protect our hands and eyes from infectious materials or hazardous chemicals by covering our mucus membranes and any abrasions we may have on our hands. While using a Bunsen burner ones hair should remain pulled back and out of ones face. This prevents the hair from unintentionally becoming ignited by the open flame. One should take precaution to always remove explosive materials from the burner to prevent ignition. A chemical hood prevents any toxic fumes from being inhaled during an experiment involving harmful chemicals, and prevents the release of that substance into the air. A biosafety cabinet prevents the spread of infectious microorganisms into the environment by keeping the microorganism enclosed.
Following proper disposal techniques ensures dangerous materials are disposed of safely and correctly. By placing glass and sharp objects in a hard sided sharps container one ensures no one will be cut or pricked by the contaminated objects. Sharps should never be disposed of in a soft sided bin. By disposing of infectious or organic materials in a biohazard bin one ensure that the material is handled correctly and potential pathogens arent released into the environment. There is a specific protocol for the disposal of biohazard material so it is very important that it is labeled as such. Paper products that have not come into contact with biohazardous products should be disposed of in a regular garbage bin or may be recycled. Tools that can be reused are washed and placed back out onto the bench. They should be washed with a disinfecting soap. Washing these tools prevents infection spreading and ensures future experiments are not contaminated. Placing tools in the autoclave ensures sterilization by removing all traces of bacteria. This is to prevent future contamination of experiments. Disinfecting the work bench before and after ones experiment prevents one from becoming exposed to bacteria on the bench and prevents the contamination of future experiments.
There are many dangers to be aware of in a laboratory. The protocols put in place are there to ensure not only your safety but the safety of others. Injuries in the lab can range from mild abrasions to infection, even third degree burns. All injuries and accidents can be avoided by being aware of your surroundings and following all safety precautions. By utilizing proper handwashing technique, donning appropriate personal protective equipment, properly disposing of materials and cleaning your work space the lab can be a safe and functional learning environment.
Lab Safety. (n.d.). Retrieved January 14, 2019, from 04:59:00&studentExtensionDate=&isBlackBoardUrl=false&ebookLinkUrl= BIO-299 1&libraryURL=&preview=&plan=0&externalProductId=A9S0004102
Career Quest Learning Centers. (2015, May 12). The Importance of Lab Safety In School and Career. Retrieved January 14, 2019, from